Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Do you believe in miracles?

Given the odds, Blue will need several Monday in BC Place war

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will climb into the ring against one of the CFL's heavyweights Monday night in Vancouver with, as those in the fight game say, a puncher's chance of winning.

Translation: Sometimes, no matter what the odds, all it takes is one clean shot to the jaw to bring down a favourite.

Still, here's the rather lopsided Bombers vs. Lions tale of the tape:

-- Winnipeg, at 1-4, has dropped three straight. The Leos are 3-2, ornery after losing in Toronto last Tuesday and have been made 11-point favourites.

-- The Bombers have made official their QB switch to Justin Goltz, who makes just his second pro start. Travis Lulay, the CFL's Most Outstanding Player in 2011, makes his 49th career start.

-- The Lions are on an eight-game winning streak at BC Place. Winnipeg is 1-1 on the road this year and 3-8 in its last 11 away games.

Knowing all this -- and there are any number of stats to trot out that would showcase the Lions' dominance -- and with the winds of change gusting with every loss, it can make for a very negative workplace.

"You know, we're still in it mentally," veteran slotback Terrence Edwards said. "We haven't checked out. We still think we can accomplish goals that we've set.

"Everybody in the locker-room knows it's a long season and we've got a lot more football games to play before we even say the season is lost.

"We're focused on the B.C. game. I know it's very clich©, but we're just going to take them one at a time.

"Right now, that's the truth. You've got to win one before you can win two. We know we've got a long season to go before we clock out."

That kind of thinking -- the season is a marathon, not a sprint -- is understandable, given the Bombers' 1-4 start.

So is spitting out just about every other clich© in the sporting handbook.

But Edwards & Co. also know every loss puts the leaders that much farther ahead of them, and that playoff hopes can fade just as quickly in August as in October.

And all this losing just dials up the crankiness at practice.

An example: Bombers defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan, in between the odd f-bomb, could be heard screaming at practice Saturday: "We haven't stopped anyone in six weeks!"

It can be a fine line for the coaching staff to walk, knowing when to console and when to verbally unload.

"You treat them like men. Sometimes you have to yell at them," said head coach Tim Burke.

"Football is not like being in an insurance company, where if you yell at somebody, you might get HR (human resources) on your back. It's a little more like the military, where guys are used to that stuff, being ridden hard. They can take that.

"They know that if you're yelling at them, this is a point of emphasis. My old high school coach used to say, 'If we're not yelling at you, we've given up on you.'

"We always talk about that, too. We don't just say, 'Go out there and yell for the heck of it.' Some guys have different personalities. As you guys know, Casey likes to yell at guys. They know that, so they don't take it to heart."

But those in Bomberland also know this: There is only so much patience now for all this chatter. As Goltz himself said earlier this week, it's time to be about it, not talk about it.

"We understand the hole we've dug ourselves," Edwards said. "We've got a lot of guys in there still willing to dig us out.

"But you can't wait and longer. Stand up and be that guy that says, 'I want to make that play' and everybody will follow. If everybody has that mindset, then big plays will follow, drives will start happening, defence will get two and outs, our return might jump out.

"We've got to be man enough to stand up to adversity. When something bad happens, everybody has to stand up and say, 'I can turn it around. Get me the ball,' or make a play a defence or on special teams: 'I'll make this key block to spring the returner.' You never know when that big play is going to happen."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 4, 2013 B2

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